In Steinbeck’s Travels With Charely, there is a great passage about the Spanish verb vacilar, present participle vacilando:

It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere but doesn’t greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction. My friend Jack Wagner has often, in Mexico, assumed this state of being. Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico City but not at random. We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it.

I wanted to go to the rooftree of Maine to start my trip before turing west. It seemed to give the journey a design, and everything in the world must have design or the human mind rejects it. But in addition it must have purpose or the human conscience shies away from it. Maine was my design, potatoes my purpose. If I had not seen a single potato my status as vacilador would not have been affected. As it turned out I saw almost more potatoes than I needed to see. I saw mountains of potatoes – oceans – more potatoes than you would think the world’s population could consume in a hundred years. (p.50)

…I like the sound of this, a plan of a non-plan or a non-plan of a plan. It makes me think of Iain Sinclear’s books, particularly Lights Out Over Territory, but also – and this is proably wholly unrelated – it reminds me I have not read (or forgotten I have read) Barthes entry in Mythologies called ‘The Writer on Holiday’ – something to follow up on.



  1. R


    (Del lat. vacillare).

    1. intr. Dicho de una cosa: Moverse indeterminadamente.
    2. intr. Dicho de una cosa: Estar poco firme en su estado, o tener
    riesgo de caer o arruinarse.
    3. intr. Dicho de una persona: Titubear, estar indecisa.
    4. intr. coloq. Col., C. Rica, Cuba y Guat. Gozar, divertirse, holgar.
    5. tr. Enganar, tomar el pelo, burlarse o reirse de alguien.

    The verb vacilar has the meaning of moving undeterminedly, but inaddition, it has that of its English couterpart, and also that ofhaving fun or mocking at someone.

  2. Pingback: Walk-Through Library « Virtual Scholars

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